2024 Desjardins Startup Prize
Awarding more than $100K in prizes to
U of T’s most innovative entrepreneurs
Delivered by University of Toronto Entrepreneurship
2024 Startup Prize
Are you a startup founder or do you have a great idea you want to turn into a business?
The Desjardins Startup Prize is U of T’s annual business pitch competition, offering over $100,000 in prizes to recognize, reward, and accelerate the most innovative startups. Ten finalists will be selected to pitch their business idea in the 2024 Desjardins Startup Prize Pitch Competition the week of March 4-8, as part of U of T Entrepreneurship Week. The shortlisted individuals or teams will compete by showcasing their startup via a five-minute pitch to a panel of investor judges.
Applications are now open! Learn about eligibility, evaluation criteria, and prizes below and submit your application by Nov 30, 2023.
- University of Toronto Entrepreneurship (UTE) community: At least one founder is a current full-time U of T student, post-doc or a recent alum from a full-time program (i.e. graduated no earlier than June 2021).
- Affiliation with a U of T Accelerator is strongly encouraged.
- Open to all faculties and sectors.
- *Early-Stage Prize: Startups must have received less than $50,000 in cumulative funding or investment and less than $25,000 in cumulative revenue as of November 30, 2023.
- **Later-Stage Prize: Startups must have received between $50,000 and $250,000 cumulative funding or investment, and less than $100,000 in cumulative revenue as of November 30, 2023.
- Entrants must be able to present to the selection committee in person the week of March 4-7, 2024
- Startups are only eligible to pitch once per category in the Prize.
- Companies that are not yet incorporated may apply, however, incorporation is required in order to receive the prize money.
- Funding thresholds include dilutive and non-dilutive funding: investment for equity, grants and previous awards or prizes.
- Primary applicant must complete U of T’s IP Education Level 1 course by November 30, 2023. For applicants who already have a strong foundation in their IP knowledge, completion of Level 1 can be replaced by completion of a Level 2 Topic. If you already have extensive knowledge or experience with IP matters and wish to take Level 2 without taking Level 1, please request a waiver of the Level 1 pre-requisite on the Level 2 Registration Forms by typing “UTE Startup Prize Application Waiver” in the field that asks “What date did you complete Level 1?”
October 16 – November 30, 2023
Competition entry window.
Please submit your application form before 5:00 pm on November 30, 2023.
Applications received after this time will not be considered.
Finalists are notified and pitch preparation commences.
The 10 applicants selected to compete will be notified in January and encouraged to work with an advisor from one of U of T’s accelerators to help them prepare. Please note that UTE may assess Early-Stage startups in January 2023 and reserves the right to reclassify to Later Stage category based on the eligibility criteria.
March 7, 2024
Pitch competition and winner selection.
The competition will take place the week of March 4-8 with five startups competing for the Early Stage Prize and five for the Later Stage Prize. Each startup will present a five-minute pitch to a panel of entrepreneurs and investors followed by a five-minute Q&A from the panel.
At both the entry and competition day stages, the panel of judges will be evaluating the startup based on:
- Problem Identification / Opportunity: A clearly articulated and compelling value proposition
- Viability: Clear knowledge of the market and evidence of demand for the solution
- Growth potential: Sustainable and scalable business model
- Innovation: Unique solution, differentiated vs. competitors, including intellectual property considerations
- Talent: A strong team
- Communication skills: An effective and persuasive overall Executive Summary and pitch presentation
- Strategy & Financial Plan: How you plan to use the prize money
The competition includes two categories for startups: Early Stage and Later Stage, based on funding raised by the venture. Three prizes are offered for each stage and finalists will have the opportunity to win an additional $4,000 with the Dongjun Wang Family True Blue Prize (People’s Choice). Please read the eligibility criteria above to learn more about funding thresholds.
- 1st place: $15,000
- 2nd place: $10,000
- 3rd place: $5,000
- People’s Choice: $4,000
Early-Stage* startups must have received less than $50,000 in cumulative funding or investment and less than $25,000 in cumulative revenue as of Nov 30, 2023.
- 1st place: $40,000
- 2nd place: $20,000
- 3rd place: $10,000
- People’s Choice: $4,000
Later-Stage** startups must have received between $50,000 and $250,000 in cumulative funding or investment, and less than $100,000 in cumulative revenue as Nov 30, 2023.
Please direct all questions regarding the 2024 Desjardins Startup Prize or application process to:
Business Services and Program Coordinator, University of Toronto Entrepreneurship
Subject line: Questions: Desjardins Startup Prize